The story of CityDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization aimed at creating a city that runs on blockchain technology and is governed by its citizens using a DAO structure. This article covers the project's timeline, from the initial idea to the purchase of land in Wyoming, as well as its governance structure, funding model, and partnerships. Along the way, the project has faced several challenges, including a phishing scam and a delisting from a popular NFT marketplace, but it has continued to make progress toward its mission of creating a more decentralized and democratic society.
In 2021, Wyoming passed a groundbreaking DAO LLC law that allows decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) to be recognized as legal entities by state institutions like courts. This means that DAOs can now own physical assets, such as real estate, intellectual property, and other valuable goods. By granting DAOs legal status, Wyoming has opened up new possibilities for innovation and investment in the digital economy.
Scott Fitsimones had the idea to build a decentralized city where the community would have a direct say in how the city is run and resources are allocated. He founded CityDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization aimed at creating a city that runs on blockchain technology and is governed by its citizens using a DAO structure. The goal of City DAO is to create a city that is more responsive to the needs of its citizens, with decisions made transparently and democratically.
July - October 2021
On July 1st, 2021, the founder of CityDAO tweeted about his intention to buy a piece of land in Wyoming. This tweet marked the project's beginning, eventually leading to the purchase of 40 acres of land near Yellowstone National Park.
The tweet quickly gained attention from people who shared the same vision and were eager to join the project. CityDAO officially registered as a limited liability company (LLC) in Wyoming around July 23rd, 2021. The founder and the team started working on a strategy to fund the project, as it required a considerable amount of financial resources.
On August 8th, 2021, the first Citizenship NFT was sold, which marked a significant milestone for the project. This NFT represented a stake in the future city, including the right to participate in decision-making processes. The sale of the NFT was a huge success, as it generated a lot of interest from the crypto community.
As the project gained traction, the community started pooling their cryptocurrency together to fund it. The team also started researching the ideal location for the city, taking into consideration factors such as accessibility, infrastructure, and natural resources. After careful consideration and planning, the community successfully purchased 40 acres of land in Wyoming for $150,000 on October 29th.
The community named the land Parcel 0, and it became the foundation for the future city. While the terrain is rocky and not especially fertile, the land has several advantages, including its proximity to an airport and the presence of a well on site for water. With the purchase of this land, CityDAO took a significant step towards realizing its vision of building a decentralized, self-governed city powered by blockchain technology.
CityDAO raised over six million dollars from 5000 people by selling their governance token, called "Citizenship". Citizens can vote on where the next land will be located, what gets built on the land, and who gets to use it.
- Citizen NFT holders have the power to access the #citizens channel in Discord, as well as additional benefits to be determined.
- Founding citizens NFT holders have the power of governance and voting rights, along with access to the #citizens channel in Discord and pre-sale access to the upcoming land NFT release.
- The first citizen NFT holder has the power to name the first parcel, subject to community approval. They are also granted read access to internal CityDAO team channels, governance and voting rights, and pre-sale access to land NFT releases. On August 8th, 2021, the First Citizen NFT sold for 6.52 ETH.
One thing to note is that the NFT was initially listed on Opensea, but had been delisted for some time. This is because Opensea claims that CityDAO violated its terms. Specifically, Opensea does not allow the listing of real estate. Since the NFT represents real estate, it cannot be listed on their platform, as they do not permit the sale of real estate tokens.
Then, on October 23rd, 2021, CityDao released a new ERC-721 NFT that was 100% independent from any exchange. Minting was done through their site, and previous NFTs could be exchanged 1:1 with the new ones at any time. The new NFTs have the same rights and value as the previous ones.
However, after the City DAO's popularity in November, Opensea once again permitted the minting of Citizenship NFTs on their platform.
In November 2021, several prominent figures in the crypto community, such as Vitalik Buterin, Mark Cuban, Anthony Pompliano, and Balaji Srinivasan, purchased their citizenship. This move garnered significant attention for the project and bolstered its credibility among the crypto community. Additionally, on November 15th, the CityDAO treasury reached a total of $8.5 million.
In December 2021 CityDAO integrated Chainlink Verifiable Random Function (VRF) on the Ethereum mainnet to provide a secure and tamper-proof source of on-chain randomness for the raffling of 950 NFT land plots. Chainlink VRF combines block data with a pre-committed private key to generate a random number and cryptographic proof, ensuring a provably random selection process that is independently auditable and transparent.
Within December, CityDAO released an article stating the need to establish a basic foundation before moving forward. This includes an operating agreement for the Wyoming DAO LLC and its Charter. Without these, any attempts to build will be on unstable ground.
They propose empowering the first CityDAO Council to ratify the pillars of their foundation. CityDAO is unique in that it brings the decentralized coordination experiment into the physical world. This presents both exciting and complex challenges. Most of the areas being disrupted by web3 are purely digital, allowing them to operate outside the reach of scrutiny.
DeFi is a great example; many projects are anonymous or operated from friendly jurisdictions. However, CityDAO doesn't have this luxury. Their mission is decentralization, but they have to operate within the confines of legacy systems, at least long enough to disrupt them. This situation puts unique legal constraints on how the DAO operates. They are giving life to something entirely new.
Forming the CityDAO Council would allow them to embrace representative democracy, at least long enough to accomplish their goals. The inaugural Council would have two clear responsibilities: ratify the CityDAO Charter and DAO LLC Operating Agreement. Together, these documents will dictate how CityDAO proceeds (including the Council itself).
In January 2022, CityDAO took steps towards decentralization and building resilience as a DAO. The CityDAO Public Affairs Guild was created, and citizens voted to elect a council to establish the CityDAO Charter. Additionally, the CityDAO museum received a CityDAO DAOpunk NFT.
However, there were some setbacks, such as a phishing scam that impacted the CityDAO Discord server, CityDAO has taken measures to ensure long-term success. For instance, they signed audit papers for the Parcel 0 land drop, began candidate election pitches on January 17th, held council elections, and established a charter to better leverage the community's talent and achieve larger goals.
In February 2022, the founder of CityDAO, Scott, was accepted as a speaker at EthDenver. Many teams were sent on behalf of CityDAO to participate in EthDenver. EthDenver is a hackathon for Ethereum developers, and Scott's talk was titled "How to Build a City on the Blockchain." In addition, CityDAO continued to gain attention and support from the crypto community, with more people purchasing citizenship NFTs and contributing to the project's growth. They also made progress on establishing the CityDAO Council and CityDAO podcast launch.
CityDAO made progress on various fronts in the first few months of 2022. The CityDAO Council completed the Charter on March 9th, which was a significant step towards establishing a solid foundation for the organization and ensuring its growth and success.
On March 23rd, Denver posted CIP-43: LFG: Parcel 0 Direct Drop for Citizens proposal, outlining a way for citizens to directly purchase land in Parcel 0. CityDAO also began brainstorming ideas for Parcel 1 on March 25th. On March 31st, a bundled Guild Proposal was posted, which laid out plans for establishing various guilds within CityDAO to coordinate efforts and ensure the organization worked towards its goals in a structured and effective manner. With the Charter in place and plans for guilds and future parcels taking shape.
On April 14th, 2022, CityDAO released the interview podcast with Wyoming Senator Chris Rothfuss. He believes that they are democratizing finance by allowing peer-to-peer transactions and giving individuals more control over their finances and businesses through their DAO structure, speedy bank model, and other initiatives.
"We’re democratizing finance. We’re making sure that these financial transactions can be down at the person-to-person level. You and I can engage and set up these structures directly. We don’t have to rely on traditional financial entities that tend to control rather than enable. And this DAO structure, the speedy bank structure, everything that we’re doing has behind it the intent of allowing the individual to control his or her own financial destiny and business destiny and enter into these transactions that they choose to and want to and to optimize based on these technologies.” ~ Chris Rothfuss
May 2022 was all about the Parcel 0 NFT drop. On May 4 Parcel 0 NFT drop was announced, the Parcel 0 NFT separates the control portion of property rights (governance) from the use and enjoyment rights (use). CityDAO seeks to understand and experiment with the distribution of property rights to create a more equitable future. The Parcel 0 NFT represents a license agreement between Holders of the Parcel 0 NFT and Parcel Zero, LLC, granting use of the property for visitation and conservation, and governance rights over the Parcel 0 treasury and projects within the scope of the Permitted Use.
Parcel 0 will be divided into areas called plots, with each plot being an ERC-721 NFT containing metadata of the plot in the form of symbolic geographic coordinates and representations. The individual plot size will be determined by Citizen demand during the mint. At the end of a forty-five (45) day mint period, the Parcel will be divided equally by the number of plots minted. The Parcel 0 plot symbolic geolocations will be assigned randomly during the reveal to ensure fair allocation. After establishing the Parcel 0 community, CityDAO will move on to explore additional projects and parcels.
Also, in May, there was a proposal named CIP-48. The City DAO proposed to move from "One-Token One-Vote" to "One-Person One-Vote," also known as Quadratic Voting. The proposal passed with a majority.
On June 15th, 2022, CityDAO announced a $40,000 grant program for projects that align with its mission to build an on-chain, community-governed, crypto city of the future. On June 21st, 2022, they also announced their mission statement and key metric. The mission of CityDAO is to construct a decentralized city on the blockchain, a network of properties owned by the DAO and united by the community. This could even include a real incorporated city in the future. Their new key metric is Citizen Time at CityDAO Property, which is calculated by multiplying the number of citizens by the number of days they spend at CityDAO property. This helps align them around creating a useful network of CityDAO properties. Their mission and metrics help them find alignment. When evaluating new projects, they should ask - does this move us closer to our mission? Does this increase Citizen Time?
CityDAO partnered with Nemus, a collectible NFT experience, to conserve and protect the Amazon Rainforest. The Nemus NFT is tied to an actual piece of land in the Amazon Rainforest, which aims to preserve and protect the biodiversity of the area. This partnership is an innovative way to support the conservation of forests and wildlife, which are integral to the health and well-being of our planet.
CityDAO purchased an XXL parcel for Nemus, which will be used to support the conservation efforts of the Amazon Rainforest. The airdrops that CityDAO citizens will receive as a result of this partnership will enable them to contribute to this cause, while also benefiting from the appreciation of the NFT value. This initiative is a win-win situation for both parties, as it promotes sustainable development while also creating value for the community.
On July 15th, 2022 CityDAO revealed its Parcel 0 viewer, the Parcel 0 viewer is an app that allows users to explore and interact with the various plots of land within Parcel 0. It provides a 3D map of the land and allows users to see the geographic coordinates of each plot. The viewer also includes information on the size of each plot and the number of citizenship tokens required to purchase it.
On July 28th, 2022 CityDAO was featured in a TED Talk by Scott Farnsworth. The talk discusses the potential of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) to change the way we think about governance and ownership. Scott talks about the experience of starting CityDAO and the challenges he faced in creating a decentralized city. He also discusses the potential benefits of DAOs, such as increased transparency and accountability, and the ability to create communities that are more responsive to the needs of their members.
In addition, On July 30th, 2022, CityDAO approved two new types of parcels: Baby Parcel and Big Parcel. Baby Parcel is a smaller plot of land that can be purchased with a fraction of the citizenship tokens required for a standard parcel. This makes it easier for citizens to invest in the project and participate in decision-making. Big Parcel, on the other hand, is a larger plot of land that requires more citizenship tokens to purchase. It is intended for citizens who want to make a larger investment in the project and have a greater say in its development.
On August 11th, 2022, CityDAO announced the winners of the grant program. The winners were Blocksoc, NiceNode, and CityDATA. Blocksoc is a blockchain-based social media platform that aims to provide a decentralized alternative to current social media platforms. NiceNode is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) that aims to create opportunities for lower-income individuals to participate in the blockchain economy. CityDATA is a data analytics platform that aims to provide insights into city planning and development. These projects align with CityDAO's mission to create a more decentralized and democratic society through the use of blockchain technology.
On August 30th, 2022, CityDOA approved The Network City CIP. A Network City is a non-contiguous land governed by CityDAO's unique set of rules, which includes governance, Partial Common Ownership mechanism design, and NFT land ownership standards. Their goal is to acquire more land over the next year and enable people to use it for various purposes such as recreation, building houses, and creating art. CityDAO also aims to be the first DAO to own a house, buy a billboard, and innovate at the intersection of blockchain and real estate with NFT leases and Radical Markets mechanisms.
CityDAO held its first academic virtual conference on the 3rd and 4th of September. They welcomed a range of scholarly papers, including discussions of Web3 initiatives or physical projects in fields related to DAOs, governance, on-chain assets, Web3 education, cities, and communities. Some of the key speakers were David Staley, Scott Meyer, Vriti Saraf, Michael Peck, Michael Dennin, Ryan Foland, Talyssa T, and Carolina Menchaca.
CityDAO approved DAOLabs proposal. DAOLabs is an innovation hub for Web3 enthusiasts, promoting building and innovation through a new working model. DAOLabs Denver will provide free access to citizens for the first 90 days, and future benefits will include off-peak free access, free access passes, and priority booking. DAOLabs aims to be community-driven, using QV funding models to fund projects and offering sponsorship opportunities. Desk leases will utilize partial common ownership. DAOLabs also intends to establish partnerships with venture capitalist firms, technology groups, and major blockchain protocols. CIP-111 proposes $162,500 to cover the lease of the property for one year, $47,500 for other incurred expenses, and $20,000 in compensation for the team's execution and setup of the space.
CityDAO rebrands the Big Parcel Project as "town", an IRL hub for DAOs and web3 organizations. The project aims to create a physical space where DAOs and other web3 organizations can meet, collaborate, and work together to build the future of decentralized governance. The town will be a network of properties that are owned by DAOs and governed by a set of shared principles.
The first stage of the town project will involve research and development to identify viable properties and secure letters of intent from interested DAOs. If successful, CityDAO will receive governance benefits and a larger stake in town, while CityDAO citizens will enjoy membership benefits.
The second stage of the project will involve the construction and development of the TOWN properties. This will involve working with architects, builders, and other professionals to create a physical space that is designed to meet the needs of decentralized organizations.
The final stage of the project will involve the launch of town and the establishment of a community of DAOs and web3 organizations that are committed to building the future of decentralized governance. The town will be a place where these organizations can meet, collaborate, and work together to achieve their shared goals.
On December 14th, a Twitter Spaces discussion was held to further discuss the development of an IRL hub. During the discussion, attendees explored and debated various ideas related to the project, including potential locations for the hub, funding opportunities, possible features of the hub, and how to ensure that the hub would be accessible to as many people as possible. Attendees also discussed the importance of creating a space that would foster creativity, collaboration, and community. Overall, the discussion was productive and showed promise for the future of the IRL hub project.
The month of January began with a discussion on the concept of a "Network State". A Network State is a highly aligned online community with the capacity for collective action. It crowdfunds territory around the world and, in time, gains diplomatic recognition from pre-existing states.
In February, CityDAO announced that they would award the world's first NFT lease for a piece of land in Blanca, Colorado to someone with an interesting idea for how to use the land. Ideas include building an off-grid house, creating an artistic monument, or setting up a campsite, among others. CityDAO citizens will review proposals for land use and vote on the winner, who will be granted a free lease of the land. The property is located at Lots 15, Block 3, San Luis Valley Ranches, Blanca, CO 81123, which is approximately 3 hours from Denver airport.
CityDAO also donated $9,000 USDC to Turkey Relief. On February 6, a massive earthquake hit Turkey-Syria, resulting in numerous lives lost and immense infrastructure damage. The Turkish CityDAO community is one of the top three largest international communities of CityDAO. This CIP requested funding to donate to the Turkey relief effort, and the donation was successfully transferred.
On March 3rd, CityDAO asked if they should switch from direct democracy to representative democracy via elections. This would involve electing representatives to make decisions on behalf of members. Reasons for this could include more efficient decision-making and better representation of diverse opinions. However, some members may worry about unequal representation and elected representatives not aligning with the broader membership.
CityDAO also attended EthDenver 2023 and participated in the hackathon. Their Harberger NFT marketplace project placed in the top 3 out of 61 teams in the "DAOs & Communities category," and in the top 15 from 450 teams across all categories. The team was also given the honor of delivering the final presentation and wrapping up the EthDenver event in front of 1500 live attendees.
CityDAO is proposing to acquire a house in Turkey for its citizens, the Turkish community, DAOs, blockchain communities of universities, and hackers. The project aims to investigate the operations required for acquiring such a house and deliver a report on potential houses, real estate topics, legal issues, operations, rent prices, processes, feedback from target audiences, and possible opportunities. The project has a budget of $3,000 and will take 2 months.
If successful, this project will increase CityDAO's brand awareness, expand its citizen base, and generate passive income from rent. It will also provide tangible benefits for its citizens and establish a new reference for international community projects.
This is only phase 1 of the project, with phase 2 including a roadmap, marketing plan, time plan, budget, ROI estimation, cons and pros, and team. As the importance of community grows in the blockchain world, CityDAO is well-positioned to become an indispensable brand for hackers, blockchain communities, DAOs, citizens, and the NFT world.
CityDAO is a unique project that aims to build a decentralized city on the blockchain. Since its inception, it has made significant progress toward achieving its mission. In just a short amount of time, CityDAO has been able to establish a strong community of citizens and gain the support of prominent figures in the crypto space. It has also made significant strides towards decentralization and building resilience as a DAO. Through its many initiatives, such as the Parcel 0 NFT drop and the town project, CityDAO is proving that it is possible to create a more decentralized and democratic society through the use of blockchain technology. The future of CityDAO looks bright, and it will be exciting to see how the project continues to evolve in the coming years.